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COVID-19

Spain’s football and basketball fans allowed to return to stadiums next season

La Liga can take another step towards normality next season after the Spanish government confirmed on Thursday it has lifted its ban on fans attending stadiums.

Spain's fans react during the UEFA EURO 2020 Group E football match between Slovakia and Spain at La Cartuja Stadium in Seville on June 23, 2021. (Photo by JAVIER SORIANO / POOL / AFP)
Spain's fans react during the UEFA EURO 2020 Group E football match between Slovakia and Spain at La Cartuja Stadium in Seville on June 23, 2021. (Photo by JAVIER SORIANO / POOL / AFP)

The exact capacity allowed in each stadium will be determined by regional authorities, with some restrictions still possible, especially in the north of Spain.

But the government giving permission for supporters to return is an important first step as La Liga clubs begin to recover financially from the Covid-19 pandemic.La Liga president Javier Tebas said earlier this week he expects stadiums to be at least 70 percent full at the start of the season in August.

“We can return let’s say to normality in terms of fans being allowed into stadiums,” Spanish health minister, Carolina Darias said on Thursday, with the announcement applying both to La Liga and Spain’s ACB basketball league.

“It will have to be, as it was before, the regional authorities who determine the capacity,” Darias added.

Fans were allowed to return for the last two rounds of La Liga last season but in only five regions and with a limit of 30 percent capacity and 5,000 people.

Spain is hosting four Euro 2020 matches in Seville at La Cartuja stadium, where a capacity of 30 percent has been allowed.

Bilbao was Spain’s original host city but local authorities were unable to commit to supporters attending Athletic Bilbao’s San Mames.

The UK government announced on Tuesday the tournament’s semi-final and final will be able to be played in front of more than 60,000 fans at Wembley, which means the stadium will be at 75 percent capacity.

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COVID-19

Did Sweden’s state epidemiologist really get a big job at the WHO?

For his supporters, it was well-deserved, for his detractors a case of failing upwards. But when Sweden's Public Health Agency announced this month that state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell was taking a job at the World Health Organisation, both sides assumed it was true.

Did Sweden's state epidemiologist really get a big job at the WHO?

Now, it seems, the job might not be there after all. 

At the start of this month, Sweden’s Public Health Agency announced that Anders Tegnell was resigning to take up a post coordinating vaccine work with the World Health Organisation in Geneva. 

“I’ve worked with vaccines for 30 years and have at the same time always been inspired by international issues,” Tegnell said in the release. “Now I will have the chance to contribute to this comprehensive international work.”

During the first and second waves of the Covid-19 pandemic, Tegnell shot immediately from obscurity into the spotlight, gaining such celebrity status in Sweden that one fan had his profile tattooed onto his arm.

Internationally he was hailed by lockdown sceptics for his reasoned arguments against overly restrictive measures to control the spread of the virus. 

His new WHO appointment was reported all over the world. 

But on Tuesday, the Svenska Daglabdet newspaper revealed that the job had not yet been awarded. A spokesperson for the WHO said at a press conference in Geneva that “there is some confusion”, and that “this is an internal question.” 

According to the newspaper, there is even “a certain level of irritation” behind the scenes at the WHO that Sweden acted too soon and dispatched Tegnell to a job that did not actually exist yet. 

“We have received an offer from Sweden, which is still under discussion,” the organisation’s press spokesperson, Fadela Chaib, told the newspaper. 

On Thursday, the Public Health Agency’s press chief Christer Janson conceded that there had been a mistake and that the negotiation had not been completed.  

“We believed it was done, but it wasn’t,” he told Expressen in an interview. “It’s been a much longer process to get this completed than we thought. There’s been a misunderstanding and we regret that.” 

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